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Yes another HD590 vs HD600 question - Page 2

post #16 of 159
When I heard the 600' and the 590's side by side at the Headroom Tour in Nashville I was amazed at how nice the 590's sounded compared to the 600's Especially since Tyll had a note on the 590's that said they were a "mistake". I saw another local recording engineer who thought the same thing. The 590's were superior!

Just to see if my impressions were right I have purchased both headpohones and have tested them for two days (although it would have only taken minutes to pick out the 590's as the clear winner).

I have a Melos Sha-1 amp so amps should not be a factor unless you want to claim that a radically more expensive amp is needed to wake up the 600's so that they can hang with the 590's.

I have a Stefan Audio Arts cable on the 590's which does make a nice difference but even comparing the two headphones both with stock cables the 590 wins in my opinion.

The biggest diference is that the 590's are clearly more detailed. They have more bass and the bass sounds much more corect. The mids have a weight and presence that the 600's seem incapable of.

I think that what has happened is that the 600's have been the top dog for so long that the rest of the industry uses them as the standard and many of the amplifiers around today are designed to enhance the sounjd of the 600's. The 590's don't seem to need this enhancement and for this reason they sound great in almost anything you plug them into.

To make my tests final and definitive for me I am going to get a Cardas cable for the 600's and compare them again but it's hard to imagine them coming from so far behind to best the 590's.

I should say that by no means are the 600's dogs but they are old technology as compared to the 590's and it shows clearly.
post #17 of 159

I saw that remark where you compared the 600's to fine wine and the 590's to a wine cooler so I had to offer what I think is a more appropriate comparison and that is that the 600's are like masturbating and the 590' are like WILD SEX!

Which you like better is, of course, a personal preference.

No harm intended.

post #18 of 159

I did a side by side comparison of 590 and 580 and 600's. The 590's are not bad headphones. They have that crispness to them, which is what I think you like. Doing a side by side comparison, the 580's/600's have less of a 'pop'. However, upon prolonged listening, you realize (at least I did) that the 580/600's are more refined. They're much more neutral sounding, much better balanced and smoother.

The 590's are a bit bright. I think you're referring to that brightness when you say they're more detailed. They're not more detailed, it's just since the highs are a bit over exaggerated, you get the impression of better detail. This is also the same characteristic that leads to fatigue after a while. I never get fatigued with the 580's.

So, I guess it all depends on what you're listening for and what matters to you in a set of cans. If you're looking for that brightness and pop, then the 590's will seem to be a clear winner. However, with careful listening, you realize that balance, neutrality and refinement make for a better headphone.

PS. If we are to go down the road of comparing 590's to wild sex, then I'd have to qualify it as wild sex with a sheep.
post #19 of 159
I'd suggest there's a good reason why the 590s are so much cheaper (at least over here) than the 580/600s and why neither the 580s or the 600s have been discontinued ... if the 590s were seriously a replacement for either the 580 or the 600, Sennheiser wouldn't continue making them ... the thing is, the 580/600 are both open-backed headphones, making them probably not very useful as engineer's headphones, but much better as audiophile headphones.

It's all a matter of personal preference anyway, so if you find the 590s to be 'better' in your opinion, then go for it! Far too many of us keep hunting for better and better equipment, and in many cases probably wouldn't realise that what we've already got is our (personal) ultimate setup.

Happy listening anyway, whether you prefer the 580s/600s (like me) or the 590s, or even a completely different set of headphones (god forbid! )
post #20 of 159

If we were to take your well thought out and reasonable advice, we'd have nothing to talk about.
post #21 of 159
I'd say go 580 and an amp. You'll see much more improvement, and hey, you can get them for around $100. . .
post #22 of 159

First, I got to tell you that the 'WILD SEX with sheep" remark was unbelievably funny. I had to take a break and take the time to make a cup of coffee before I could quit laughing long enough to respond. You win in the sarcastic remarks department, by leaps. I can't think of anything funnier than that as a comeback. I thought my analogy was foolproof but I guess I was wrong.

Anyhow, back to more important issues. I disagree that the 590's are bright. They are however quite a bit more dynamic while the 600's are conservative and polite (old technology). My feeling is that the HD600's are rolled off and I wouldn't be alone in this since that is the most common complaint about them.

When I say detail I am not referring to the brightness, either. I can literally hear things with the 590's that are almost non-existent with the 600's. On one of Joni Mitchell's recordings last night I could hear the decay of the reverb on the snare drums loud and clear while it was almost non-existent on the 600's.

Much more noticeable however is the bass which on the 590's is more prominent and deeper. More important though is the fact that the 590's replicated the actual sound of the instruments more accurately than the 600's.

Then comes the most important difference and that is that the 590's have a warmth and body to the lower midrange that is nowhere to be found on the 600's. I would say for accuracies sake that it borders on being too warm in the lower mids but this warmth in somewhat like the sound most people enjoy from tubes.

I'll say again that the reason why the 600's need an decent (read as expensive) amp to make them sound at their best is that they need a little help. The 590's are swinging right out of the box and sound great on any type of material.

I think why they haven't completely replaced the 600's is because, as I said earlier, the whole industry has used the 600's as the standard for years and a lot of the equipment that is available is designed with the HD600's in mind. That however is ending finally and the 590's, along with other models from other manufacturers, is clear proof of that.

I will also say that I think technologicvally the 590's have surpased the 600's the only reason they are cheaper in my mind is because as these things progress they are not as expensive as they once were. The first VCR I bought was $2,400.00 but not so today.
I also think that, in general, the 590's are made more cheaply. They unfortunately do not look as expensive as the 600's either and at their price they obviously aren't as expensive.

Needless to say, I love the 590's. There is no question about that and I will argue in their favor forever if I have too because I think they have been unfairly criticized. However you are welcomed to have your favorite and I truly hope you enjoy your own selection. I think the differences between them are small rather than large and, honestly speaking, when I have the 600's on I am more than pleased. However, with a choice between the two the 590's are my personal favorites.

I am going to try them with the Cardas and Equinox cables in the next few weeks but, after that, I expect the 600's will be for sale. I've got all the original boxes and literature in case anyone out there is interested.
post #23 of 159
Originally posted by bkelly

Much more noticeable however is the bass which on the 590's is more prominent and deeper. More important though is the fact that the 590's replicated the actual sound of the instruments more accurately than the 600's.
I agree when both are used without an amp. With a META42 and HD600, the bass is undoubtedly deeper and much more controlled, detailed, and real sounding. I think the bass on the 590 is exaggerated, so it sounds more prominant and deeper when it's actually just boomy.

I like them both though. It just depends on my mood and a lot on what CD/music I'm listening to, as some recordings are way too bright with the 590's, and others are way too lifeless with the 600's.

BTW, yes, the iPod can sufficiently power the HD600's. The volume can go louder than I can tolerate. The sound is pretty decent, but it's a bit bright, hollow, and empty-sounding. An amp of course eliminates all this. The iPod is better at driving the 590's.
post #24 of 159

If you're saying that 590's without an amp sound better than 600's without an amp, I concur with you 100%. If you compare both of them with an amp, I think that Taphil hit the nail right on the head with his description. The boominess and brightness are the characteristics that give the 590's that 'wow' factor, the feeling of deep bass and clarity. I'm still sticking with my fine wine and sheep analogy.
post #25 of 159
Thread Starter 

You guys make it tough!

This isn't getting any easier for me!

Most of the replies seem to favor spending more on the 600s and an amp, and yet I don't want to discount the detailed replies in favor of the 590. I still struggle with people liking the 600s over 590s while saying the 590s have more detail - why would you not want all the detail you can get out of a recording?

I stopped by a stereo store on the way home from work on Friday and what do I see - a pair of 590s sitting there (they don't carry the 600s). I was gonna pass on them but the guy offered them to me for $160 so I did a major impulse buy and picked them up. I have 30 days to try them out and decide if I want to keep them. I have been burning them in since Friday night and will give them a heavy listen in the next few days before deciding whether or not to keep them.

Money, while we never have enough, is not the complete deciding factor here. I could certainly pick up the 600s now and an amp in a month or so. I gotta space things out a little though - I do have a wife to contend with! I think I am leaning towards this route.

I have decided to pick up an amp whichever headphones I decide to get. For the money, the Corda HA-1 sounds like a good amp and I am leaning heavily towards it. I don't really have time for a DIY amp, though it certainly sounds like a fun project. I think I will also pick up a Korda Portapro for puttering around in.

Decisions, decisions!
post #26 of 159

My personal preference would have been to pick up a pair of HD580's on e-bay for about $125 and an amp. Barring purchasing an amp, the 590's are the way to go.

PS. I'm just saying that for Brian's sake. :0
post #27 of 159
Hehe probably true
post #28 of 159

First off, let me ask you a question, have you owned both headphones or listened to them extensively at home or did you make up your mind from a store demo?

The reason I ask this is becasue Taphil really has the most appropriate response to both of these headphones and that is that a choice between the two would depend on what "mood" you were in or what you were listening to. You could even get this down to how often one phone was more acceptable than the other if you just had to pick a winner. Picking a winner is not something I am really obsessed with. The thing that I really, really object to is the notion that the 590's are somehow inferior and Tyll's insistance that they are a "mistake" is total ********!!!

Once again I will say that the I have listened to both headphones through the Melos and the amp help the 600's much more than the 590 's but not enough for me to feel like the 600's are better than the 590's.


The META 42 must be the answer for the HD600's because you are now the third person to suggest that this is a near ideal pairing for them. Do you have one of these DIY amps?

As far as the bass goes I listened to both headphones with your view that the 590's are boomier. In my system (a tube/transistor hybrid) I do not hear it that way but I think I know what you are talkinga about. The biggest differnce between the two headphones (and the more I listen to them the more I like both of them for different reasons) is that the 590's get the timbre of the instruments more correct. That is to say that guitars sound like guitars, drums sound like drums and basses sound more like basses. Since you own both headphones and seem pretty objective about them I would appreciate your thoughts on that using your epuipment.

Also, do you have aftermarket cabling on yours or are they both stock. Tuberoller is sending me a pair of Cardas and a pair of Equinox to trial on the 600's. I now have a Stefan Audio Arts on the 590's which make a noticeable difference but not a huge one. They calm the 590's down a bit a provide a better soundstage and a slightly better defined bass.


If your dealer does not carry the 600's how you going to compare them?

I look forward to hearing from you.

post #29 of 159
Thread Starter 

I really do want to compare both side by side, but am not sure I want to buy the 600s unless I decide to go this route - I will find a place to listen to both at the same time.

Which Stefan Audio Arts cable are you using with the 590s? The Equinox, Vision 1, or Nightpath? Does the improvement justify the cost of the cable?


post #30 of 159

As far as I know they only make the 590 cable in the Equinox version but that may change.

As far as how much difference they make I would say once again that the 590's don't seem to benifit as much from ugrading as do the 600's. I haven't changed cables myself on the 600's but I have read where others have commented that changing the cables on the 600 was a significant improvement. The biggest difference with the Stefan Audio Arts cable is that it cleans up the sound a bit and provides a nicer more coherent soundstage and better bass. Ultimately, I think the Stefan Audio Arts cable makes the 590's sound more like the 600's but still with the dynamic impact that the 590's excel in. It's an improvement and worth doing I think but, in my system, it was a not a major improvement.

If you are interested (I have no connection with him other than as a very satisfied customer) but I bought mine from fellow Head-Fi member and dealer "tuberoller". I think he will give you a deal and the cable can be made in custom lengths which was important to me.

Since you now have a pair of 590's what is your initial impression. Are they too bright? This is the common complaint about them from 600 fans. I think they are pretty lively for something you wear on your head but too bright is not how I would describe it. Listen to the decay of the reverb and delays used on instruments and voices and you will hear detail that the 600's obscure. Do the drums sound like drums or what? Do guitars sound like guitars? You get the picture.

I really look forward to hearing more from Taphil about these two phones because he has both of them and has more experience with them.

Do not return the 590's quickly. If necessary I will send you my 600's to test side by side with your 590's so you can make an informed decision.

I should say here that I have one big problem with my own 590's and that is that, believe it or not, one earphone is a little "hotter" than the other one which throws the stero balance off a little. I bought these used so I have no warranty. I've also heard that quality control on the early 590's was a little weak so I would definitely recommend purchasing them new and only after a home trial.
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